Treva Silverman

Writer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her two-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Treva Silverman talks about her early interests and the first time she recalls getting a laugh, at age six. She describes her early career in comedy, writing for television specials and as a writer for Joan Rivers. She discusses her work as a writer on the popular '60s series The Monkees, commenting on the characterizations created for each performer and the process of writing series episodes. She speaks about her writing for such late '60s series as Captain Nice and He & She, both of which were well-received but short-lived, as well as the landmark drama Room 222. She speaks in great detail about the series for which she is most associated The Mary Tyler Moore Show, for which she won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series and Writer of the Year (Series) in 1974. She talks about working with series creators James L. Brooks and Allan Burns and the fact that the show observed no pecking order with the writers ("the best line wins"). She talks about the creation of the "Georgette" character (played by Georgia Engel) and the basis of many of "Rhoda's" (Valerie Harper) traits and storylines on her own personal life. She details such classic episodes as "Today I Am a Ma'am," "Rhoda the Beautiful," and "The Lou and Edie Story." She then talks about her semi-retirement from writing and her later contributions to writing in television and films. Allan Neuwirth conducted the interview in Sherman Oaks, CA on September 18, 2007.

"I can't write a character unless I love them. And if I love them it means that I've taken their flaws and their faults, too.  I wish I could do that 100% in real life."

Highlights
Treva Silverman on developing the female characters in Mary Tyler Moore, That Girl, and her shows
Treva Silverman on decisions made on The Monkees; influenced by the Marx Brothers "controlled comic anarchy".
Treva Silverman on pitching a story; how it can be a humbling experience
Treva Silverman on meeting Joan Rivers; writing with Joan
Treva Silverman on advice to aspiring comedy writers
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her childhood, early influences, and her first job as a singing pianist
On meeting Joan Rivers; James L. Brooks; on writing for The Entertainers

Chapter 2

On television variety series she wrote for; The Monkees tv show; on being a woman in a male-dominated writing staff
On the enormous success of The Monkees; on specific episodes

Chapter 3

On The Monkees; 
On Captain Nice; working with Buck Henry and Leonard Stern; James L. Brooks and Room 222; winning awards

Chapter 4

On pitching a story for That Girl; The Mary Tyler Moore Show; writing for early feminist roles
On developing female characters "Rhoda" and "Georgette" for The Mary Tyler Moore Show; "Today I'm a Ma'am"; on Mary Tyler Moore, Grant Tinker

Chapter 5

On director Jay Sandrich; on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and where story ideas came from
On the legacy of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and reason for its success; on getting nominated for Emmys
On the role of women in television; advice to aspiring writers; on being the first woman to win an Emmy for comedy
Shows

Captain Nice

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Treva Silverman on Captain Nice with Buck Henry

Entertainers, The

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Treva Silverman on writing for The Entertainers with Carol Burnett

Mary Tyler Moore Show, The

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On how Mary Tyler Moore's Rhoda character was described to her; in developing female characters on the show
On developing female characters "Rhoda" and "Georgette" for The Mary Tyler Moore Show; "Today I'm a Ma'am"
Treva Silverman on the origin of story ideas for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, "Rhoda the Beautiful"

Monkees, The

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Treva Silverman on writing for The Monkees television series
Treva Silverman on decisions made on The Monkees; influenced by the Marx Brothers "controlled comic anarchy".

Room 222

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Treva Silverman on Room 222 and working with James L. Brooks

That Girl

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Treva Silverman on pitching a story; how it can be a humbling experience
02:29
Topics

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Treva Silverman on advice to aspiring comedy writers

Women

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Treva Silverman on developing the female characters in Mary Tyler Moore, That Girl, and her shows
Treva Silverman on the role of women in television today
Treva Silverman on being the first woman to win an Emmy for comedy
Professions

Writers

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Treva Silverman on pitching a story; how it can be a humbling experience
02:29
Genres

Comedy Series

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Treva Silverman on advice to aspiring comedy writers
People

James L. Brooks

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Treva Silverman on Room 222 and working with James L. Brooks

Buck Henry

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Treva Silverman on working with Buck Henry on Captain Nice

Joan Rivers

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Treva Silverman on meeting Joan Rivers; writing with Joan

Jay Sandrich

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Treva Silverman on Jay Sandrich's contribution to The Mary Tyler Moore Show as a director

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